em’kal eyongakpa: babhi–bεrat 21r

September 18 - September 26, 2021

From 18 to 26 September the Oude Kerk in collaboration with the Hartwig Art Foundation will present a sound sculpture by artist Em’kal Eyongakpa. The work he is developing for the Oude Kerk is the outcome of his artistic investigation of the relationship between water and sound. Sounds are the most important medium in Em’kal’s practice.

In the Oude Kerk, the experience of music and sound is often collective, comprising the interplay of frequencies and architecture. Born in Kɛnyaŋ/Dɛnya, Cameroon, artist Em’kal Eyongakpa provides an experience of sound in the Oude Kerk that is both personal and collective. Eyongakpa (1981) developed a sound sculpture entitled babhi–bεrat 21r, a fragment of the series babhi-manyɛp/ babhi-bawɛt, (series: mbaŋ), especially for Amsterdam’s oldest building. Translated from Kenyang, mbi means ‘path’ or ‘route’ (pl babhi), bawɛt means ‘oil’, manyɛp means ‘water’ and babhi-manyɛp/ babhi-bawɛt means ‘waterways’/ ‘oil ways’. Eyongakpa’s sound experience resonates in the entire space via wooden, pulsing platforms in the middle of the church. The platforms form a path on which visitors can walk. They transform the unprocessed sound recordings the artist made during nightly rites/processions through the city into a physical sound experience. Nature and outdoor sounds find their way into the space.

hartwig art foundation
The Hartwig Art Production | Collection Fund was established in 2020 and is part of the Hartwig Art Foundation. The fund stimulates experimentation and creativity at the highest level. Every year the fund supports a group of artists in the creation of new and ambitious work. The artworks are eventually bought by the Hartwig Art Foundation and donated to the Dutch State (Collectie Nederland). In this way, the fund makes a lasting social contribution. For the Special Project 2020-2021 collaborations have been established with presentation institutions in the Netherlands. Besides Oude Kerk presentations by a total of 15 artists can be seen at Kunstinstituut Melly (Rotterdam), Stroom Den Haag, Vleeshal (Middelburg) and Casco Art Institute (Utrecht).

Em’kal Eyongakpa graduated in plant biology and ecology from the University of Yaounde 1 and participated in a residency programme at the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam. He is known for his travelling research spaces and autonomous art centres: KHaL! SHRINE (Yaounde, 2007-2013), Bɔɔ Bɛtɔk/ɛfúkúyú, (Amsterdam, 2017-present). Visitors are able to see and experience Eyongakpa’s work at various events and exhibition spaces around the world.